Who is responsible for rideshare sexual abuse?

On Behalf of | Dec 6, 2022 | Uber, Lyft & Rideshares

Rideshare services can be a convenient way to get around. Whether you’re traveling or need a ride home after a night out, companies like Uber and Lyft have provided a convenient alternative to taxis or car rentals. However, numerous people have been sexually abused by rideshare drivers in the past few years.

In a complaint released in July, women passengers in multiple states claim they were kidnapped, sexually abused, falsely imprisoned, stalked or harassed by their Uber drivers. Lyft faced similar allegations from female passengers. If a rideshare driver sexually abused you, you may wonder who holds responsibility for harming you in these situations. The answer, however, isn’t always that clear.

Is the driver or the rideshare company liable for abusing me?

Rideshare drivers serve as independent contractors, which can absolve the company of responsibility for the driver’s actions. That’s because companies typically have less legal control over how independent contractors perform their work.

However, some survivors have been able to hold rideshare companies liable by pointing out the negligent hiring practices and background checks used when bringing on drivers. Others have found success by highlighting rideshare companies’ duty of care to passengers, saying that the company failed to protect the rider from harm when using their services. Every rider’s circumstances are different and can dictate their ability to pursue legal action. An experienced sexual abuse attorney can help you establish an appropriate action plan based on your situation.

Is it possible to sue the driver who abused me?

You can sue the driver who abused you. However, it’s important to consider the goals you wish to achieve when pursuing a civil sexual abuse case. According to Glassdoor, the national average salary of rideshare drivers is only around $44,909 annually. Due to these circumstances, pursuing individual drivers may not yield a significant payout. Rideshare companies typically have liability insurance policies and can afford to pay out larger settlements should survivors win a lawsuit.

Safety tips when using rideshare

Even when rideshare companies employ background checks and take preventative measures, sexual abuse or assault can still happen. However, you can reduce the risk of getting abused with these tips:

  • Stay inside until your ride comes: This is especially important if you’re riding alone. Also, make sure to ask who the driver is looking for without saying your name. There may be instances when someone pretends to be a rideshare driver when they’re not.
  • Sit behind the driver’s seat: If a rideshare driver has ill intentions, sitting behind the driver’s seat can limit their ability to grab you. If you’re worried about a driver trying to kidnap and sexually abuse you, you can text 911. Rideshare companies may also allow you to report safety issues with drivers.
  • Have loved ones keep track of your location: If you’re able, share your location with a friend or family member. That way, they can know if you arrived safely at your destination. It also allows them to contact authorities if they think you’re in trouble.

Knowing how to respond when your driver has ill intentions can be difficult. However, when you have the right tools and resources, you have a better chance of protecting yourself.

You deserve to feel safe when utilizing rideshare apps

Rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft are supposed to be resources that help you get around safely. These companies have a duty of care to their customers. When their customers are abused at the hands of drivers, passengers deserve to seek justice and hold their abusers accountable.